❖ To what extent was naval rivalry the main cause of the first World War?
One of the main causes of World War I was the Anglo-German naval race. Britain, as an island empire, always had the navy as one of her top priorities. A key event in Britain’s naval expansion was the 1889 “Naval Defense Act” that established the "two power standard": Britain considered necessary to have a navy that was not only the largest in the world, but also equal to or greater than the sum of the world's second and third largest navies. On the other side of the channel, also Germany saw naval expansion vital and as the only way to succeed in the acquisition of overseas colony; therefore, the “official” aim of Germany’s naval expansion was to reinforce their colonial empire, but this expansion was also seen as an obvious response to the British naval plans. This situation exacerbated the relations between the two European power and set basic elements for a naval race. In 1906, the Naval Race took an important turn. Britain launched the ‘HMS Dreadnought’, this new battleship was faster (21 knots), with a bigger range ( 9-12 Km), and powered with ten twelve-inch guns instead of the usual four, it was such an advancement of naval technology that it rendered all existing battleships obsolete. A couple of years later Germany responded to Britain, planning to build four dreadnoughts in a three years time. Britain inevitably had to counterattack Germany’s expansion by announcing the building of eight dreadnoughts instead of three. Consequently the relations between them were obsessed from the building of the navies, and a direct and evident rivalry was created. The results of this frenetic naval rivalry was that by 1914 Germany ,even if Britain’s fleet remained considerably larger , had become the second naval world power; they were both ready for a more than ever imminent war. Although the naval rivalry was one of the main causes of World War I and profoundly contributed to create an...
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